Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that he believes Democrats have the 51 votes necessary to pass a war powers resolution limiting President Donald Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran without congressional approval.
“The Senate will soon consider Senator (Tim) Kaine’s war power resolution, which would prevent further escalation of hostilities with Iran,” the New York Democrat told reporters after Senate policy lunches.
“Senator Kaine sat down with Senators Paul and Lee and they came up with a resolution, which ripens Sunday, and we believe will get 51 votes that is needed to pass,” Schumer said, referring to Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah as well as Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia.
Schumer said the timing for a vote on the resolution still needs to be worked out and that they will have to figure out “how it intersects with impeachment.”
Kaine told reporters, “We have been able to make some amendments that have earned the support first of Senators Lee and Paul, but now the support also of Senators Young and Collins,” referring to Republican Sens. Todd Young of Indiana and Susan Collins of Maine.
“There are a number of other Republicans who are looking at it as well,” Kaine said, adding, “We now have the 51 votes that we need for the version that’s the bipartisan version that doesn’t mature until this weekend. It will first be available for consideration by the Senate next week. Senator Schumer and Senator McConnell are sort of talking through the timing of it.” Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell is the Senate majority leader.
Kaine added, “The good news is this: We now have a majority of colleagues, Democratic and Republican, who will stand strong for the principle that we shouldn’t be at war without a vote of Congress, and that’s a very positive thing.”
The House voted last week on its own resolution aimed at reining in Trump on Iran. It passed by 224-194.
The vote on the House resolution came after the President had signaled a de-escalation of tensions with Iran, saying that “Iran appears to be standing down” in the wake of its retaliatory attacks against Iraqi bases housing US troops, which came after a US airstrike killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
Despite the apparent de-escalation, congressional Democrats have continued to express alarm over the strike and the administration’s justification in taking the action.
“This vote is crucial,” Schumer said, “It’s what the Founding Fathers wanted. The power to make war should be with the Congress, not with the executive branch.”